South African Music Awards honour music heroes

Three local music legends, and one in the making, will be honoured during the XXI Annual South African Music Awards, taking place at the Sun City Superbowl on Sunday 19 April 2015.

A young Spikiri and Mdu in MM Deluxe. Photo: afrosynth.blogspot.com
A young Spikiri and Mdu in MM Deluxe. Photo: afrosynth.blogspot.com

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Awards, sponsored by Amstel Lager, will be presented to kwaito pioneers Mandla “Spikiri” Mofokeng and Mdu Masilela, as well as the late jazzman Zim Ngqawana.

Soweto-born Mandla Mofokeng, popularly known as Spikiri (meaning “nail”), is one of South Africa’s most influential kwaito pioneers. As a musician, singer and producer, his talents have been a cornerstone of the kwaito music sound since its inception. Spikiri has masterminded hits for the likes of Bongo Maffin, Kabelo, Teargas, Trompies (of which he was a founder member) and Thandiswa Mazwai. It all started when, as part of the disco duo MM Deluxe with good friend Mdu Masilela in the late 1980s, they helped introduce what came to be known as kwaito. As a co-director at the Kalawa Jazmee label, he has overseen the careers of acts such as Mafikizolo, Uhuru, Black Motion, Boom Shaka, Brothers of Peace and Mahoota vs Vetkuk, and has also worked with jazz artists such as Don Laka, Moses Molelekwa and Hugh Masekela.

Equally pivotal to the evolution of kwaito is Mdu Masilela, affectionately known as “the godfather of kwaito”. From his stint with MM Deluxe, mixing township folk music with international dance music, he went on to record major hits such as ‘Tsiki Tsiki’ and ‘Mazola’. Masilela has since released a number of albums, and has also made a name for himself producing and arranging for other artists such as MaWillies, Mashamplani, Skeem and Brown Dash.

Zim Ngqawana was one of South Africa’s brightest jazz stars until his untimely death in 2011. More about his musical and spiritual legacy here.

World-renowned flautist Wouter Kellerman will receive an International Achievement Award for his Grammy-winning, chart-topping Winds of Samsara. Kellerman became South Africa’s latest Grammy Award winner this year for his 2014 album Winds of Samsara, a collaboration with Indian composer and producer Ricky Kej, which won a Grammy for Best New Age Album. It is also in the running for two SAMAs at the XXI Annual South African Music Awards for Best Classical/Instrumental Album and Best Producer. The album also notched up a remarkable feat by reaching number one on the US Billboard New Age Albums Chart. It also topped the Zone Music Reporter Top 100 Radio Airplay Chart last July. His album Two Voices won a SAMA in 2011, reinforcing his status as one of the country’s true crossover artists who thrives on experimenting with the shades, textures and colours that his magic flute is capable of painting, and creatively blending them with other instrumentation and vocal sounds.

The 21st annual South African Music Awards take place at the Sun City Superbowl on Sunday 19 April 2015.

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